South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Hon. Jeff Radebe, has confirmed that the country’s long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will be concluded imminently.
The draft IRP, which maps out the country’s energy strategy until 2030, was first released in August 2018 for public comment.
Speaking among power industry leaders at a conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, the minister said: “Cabinet approval for the IRP for South Africa will define a tangible plan for energy security that also enables the participation of independent power producers’ side by side with Eskom.”
He highlighted that the country was decreasing its dependence on state-owned Eskom, noting that: “we can’t put all our energy eggs in one basket,” while acknowledging that the country’s coal deposits cannot lie dormant.
“Coal to liquids and other clean coal technologies are critical considerations that will enable us to continue using our coal resources in an environmentally responsible way,” he explained.
Also speaking at the conference, Eskom CEO, Phakamani Hadebe, said that South Africa was on a path to a more renewable energy-focused energy mix, which is stipulated in the draft IRP.
“There can be no doubt that the world is moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy…the IRP is pointing in that direction… every year you get less investors willing to fund fossil. We need to accelerate the transition to renewables,” he noted.
With one of the highest per capita users of electricity globally, Minister Radebe highlighted that there is still a high number of South African’s without access to energy. The minister stated that it was imperative to close the power gap through investment initiatives, such as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive, that saw the setting of investment targets that would stimulate economic growth.
On the Department of Energy’s (DoE) investment efforts Radebe said: “Through the REIPPP program, the Department of Energy has set out strong signals with regards to South Africa as an investment destination for energy infrastructure development. We have successfully implemented bidding rounds to which the response has been over R250 billion ($17.5bn) in investments to date.”
Communicating the government’s energy strategy, and having a key role in greater economic growth, minister Radebe said the DoE has “always indicated that our objectives are premised on improved energy security, the diversification of our energy mix including regional integration, increasing access to modern energy carriers, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions… and creating and improving our energy efficiency and lowering the cost of energy.”
In achieving this low cost, low impact energy plan, Radebe said the improvement and construction of infrastructure are estimated to cost the South African economy over R1 trillion ($70,3bn).
He further pointed out that to secure this necessary funding, it was important for African governments to pursue innovative funding options to further their development agendas.